Last week I shared some exciting news that I was setting up a new business, that I was creating something, something that I would have loved when Kenzie was born or any of my children for that matter. There has been very little progress since last Thursday as I’m still putting together my business plan and trying to come up with a name for it too. I want something instagrammable, something fresh and cool but it’s so hard. It’s like naming a child all over again, and we all know how long it took us to name Kenzie. Anyways it’s been a fun week, I’ve interviewed lots of inspirational Irish mammies who have set up a baby-related business during pregnancy, maternity or whilst raising young kids.
And one of those is Gillian O’Neill, mama of one and founder of Mummy Hub in Gorey, Wexford and she’s kicking off Meet The Mumtrepreneur.
Hi, Gillian, tell me a little about Mummy Hub and how you came up with the idea?
Mummy Hub is a positive inclusive place for parents. It is a shop, in Gorey, Co Wexford, that stocks ergonomic baby slings & carriers, cloth & eco nappies, cloth sanitary products, nursing bras, organic cotton baby clothes, leather pre-walker shoes, amber teething jewellery and a couple of little surprises too.
The whole idea for Mummy Hub came about while I was on maternity leave with my son, Sebastian, who is now 20 months old. I come from a breastfed, cloth nappied, carried family. So, everything that is in Mummy Hub is normal to me. I wanted to have somewhere, in Wexford, that you could walk into without an appointment, to ask questions and look at slings and nappies. For a lot of first-time parents, the only point of reference that they have for anything is the internet. In particular, with the slings & carriers. It is a lot of money to spend on-line, if you don’t know what you want to get or if you are unsure about it.
While I was still on maternity leave, I started doing my market research, going around to all of the mother and baby mornings and meets, asking mum and dads if they would be interested in a sling and cloth shop. The positive response was fantastic.
Before I opened, I also completed my Slingababy Babywearing Consultant Training. I am trained to teach parents how to carry their babies & children safely and correctly. So, after sourcing suppliers that no one else stocks (or very few) I opened Mummy Hub 21st April 2016.
One of my favorite things about Mummy Hub is the funky yellow couch. I put a couch in the shop to allow parents to stop and feed their children. When you’re learning to breastfeed, feeling comfortable is really important. Some kids get really overwhelmed in town, and they just need a pit stop somewhere to have a cuddle and a drink with their mum or dad. So, anyone who needs to avail of the couch is always welcome, no purchase required.
What has been your biggest challenge starting-up?
Learning not to get offended by people’s reactions to my shop. I get a lot of “what would you be doing with a cloth nappy when you can use a pampers?” or “why would you carry the child, sure you’re only going to spoil them!”.
The whole point of Mummy Hub is to make everything that is not available in the large nursery stores available, on the high street, during normal shopping hours. I want people to be more aware of the other options that are open to them, to help make their parenting journey a bit gentler. To make their little ones transition to this side a little easier.
How did you fund your business?
The lovely folks in AIB Gorey.
How do you juggle childcare?
I had to go back to my old job when Sebastian was 7 months old, at the end of my maternity leave. He’s been going to creche 3 days a week since then. We’re very lucky that my Husband, Ian, has set work hours. He works from 5.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday, so I drop Seb to in and Ian picks him up. Seb also comes to work with me for one day a week. It’s nice to have him here. I love spending time with him, and he’s at that lovely age where he wants to do things and help. I can empty a shelf into a box and get him to restack it and it keeps him going for hours. He’s also a fantastic advertisement for slings. If you come into the shop at about 1.15pm on a Tuesday, you can generally get to see the magic “Sleepy Dust” effect of slings, as he falls asleep on my back.
Since setting up Mummy Hub, what are you most proud of?
Doing it! Of actually taking the plunge and opening my own business. I have an honors degree in Retail Management from Waterford IT and have worked for some big multinational retailers, but I have always wanted to open my own little shop and build my own empire. I’m also really proud of my husband and my parents for their support. My dad did my shop fit, my mum works with me for 2 days a week and my husband is just Superman. Between building the website in the evenings, collecting Seb from creche, making dinners and pouring a mean G&T on a Saturday night after a long week, he really has been amazing. I would never have managed, and I’d be gone already if it wasn’t for them.
What words of advice would you give to other mums who are on maternity leave or have young children that are thinking about setting up their own business?
Try and have some capital there yourself for your start up. I was very lucky that AIB was as generous as they were, but I would have preferred to have about 6 months wages there as backup for myself. And if you are borrowing, double what you think you’ll need. Something always pops up.
What’s next for you and your business?
Ooooohhh the list is endless. I’m hoping to have the website up and running by the time you publish this. Within the next 12 months, I want to have a sling library to hire slings out to people to try before they buy. I also want to have a drop in service available for new parents, who need support with their slings or cloth nappies or breastfeeding. I have just completed my breastfeeding peer support training, and I am hoping to start my postpartum doula training soon.
The sky really is the limit!
And finally, where will I find you?
Website – www.mummyhub.ie
Facebook – www.facebook.com/mummyhub13
Twitter – @MummyHubGorey
Instagram – @mummyhubgorey
Location – 13 Upper Esmonde Street, Gorey, Co Wexford, Y25 XO12.
Thank you, Gillian, it’s been a pleasure and I love the idea about a drop in service. I would have loved something like that when we first started using cloth nappies and I wish you all the best with the postpartum doula training.
If you’re an Irish mammy in the baby business and would like to take part in Meet The Mumtrepreneur pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.